The Mandoline: Power of Precision

Uniform in size and beautiful in presentation, produce sliced by the mandoline is always precise. The mandoline is many chefs' most revered and coveted kitchen tool. This slicing and cutting machine is a workhorse in the kitchen, saving cooks and chefs valuable time with near-perfect results.

The mandoline has existed for centuries. It was first documented by Bartolomeo Scappi, a cook to both cardinals and popes in 16th century Italy. Scappi made detailed notes about how to run a successful kitchen in his book The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi. The book pictures a simple wooden board with an affixed blade used to cut vegetables. The device was named “mandoline” because its method of use resembles the way one plays the musical instrument of the same name.

Over the centuries, the mandoline has been refined and improved. Today they are made of stainless steel or plastic, and are available at many price points — with the least expensive versions selling for around $15. More expensive versions are not necessarily better but may include more safety features and blades.

Although price tags vary, the concept of each model is the same. A mandoline has a flat surface to which a metal blade is attached. The most basic models feature one non-removable blade that can be raised or lowered by knobs on the side to create thicker or thinner slices. In more advanced models, the metal blades are interchangeable and come in several sizes, each creating a different type of cut, from julienne slices to waffle cuts. With their sharp blades, mandolines can be quite dangerous, so read the instruction manual before use. Most mandolines come with a hand guard to hold the food and to keep fingers away from the blade. For additional protection, wear gloves made of cut-resistant materials.

Mandolines are perfect for making uniformly cut fruits and vegetables in a variety of shapes and sizes. The flat blade can slice eggplant, zucchini and summer squash into planks. Tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, lightly grilled and topped with fresh herbs, these make a healthy and beautiful side dish. Try slicing citrus fruits for garnish or thinly slice apples and pears for desserts or sandwich fillings. The waffle blade makes perfect sweet potato French fries, while the ripple blade thinly slices cucumbers and carrots as a garnish for a salad. Vegetables and fruits cut into paper-thin ribbons are also a fun way for kids to try a variety of foods that they otherwise might not eat. Meanwhile, adults can appreciate the speed and efficiency of the mandoline. This tool gives the home cook the food-prepping power of a professional chef.  

Baked Apple Chips

Developed by Lindsay Livingston

Serves 8

Who says you can’t have your chips and eat them too? These nutritious apple chips are an easy, healthy new way to think about snack food.

4 apples*
2 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Core the apples if desired. Using a mandoline, slice the apples as thinly as possible. Place on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  2. Bake the apple slices for one hour. Then flip the slices over and bake for another hour. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Cooking Notes
*Adjust the number of apples to the size of your baking sheets.

Nutrition Info
Serving size: 12 chips. Calories: 49; Total fat: 0g; Sat. fat: 0g; Chol.: 0mg; Sodium: 1mg; Carb.: 13g; Fiber 3g; Sugars: 9g; Protein: 0g; Potassium: 100mg; Phosphorous: 10mg

Sara Haas on FacebookSara Haas on Twitter
Sara Haas
Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based dietitian and co-author of the Fertility Foods Cookbook. Read her blog, The Cooking RD, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.